In 1967, 100/1 shot Foinavon won the Grand National when the entire field fell, refused or were hampered in melee at the 23rd fence. The story has been well documented since then and the fence itself has even been named after the horse, so expect more archive footage to hit your TV screens ahead of this weekend’s big race.
In keeping with tradition, it’s FA Cup semi-final weekend too and just like Foinavon, no one is giving Brighton & Hove Albion a chance against Manchester City on Saturday evening at Wembley. However, don’t despair Seagulls fans, because here at Paddy Power we’ve come up with five Wembley examples to give you hope ahead of the big game all of which, just like Foinavon’s triumph 52 years ago, were not supposed to happen.
SUNDERLAND 1-0 LEEDS UNITED – FA CUP FINAL 1973
In the same year as Red Rum won his first National, second division Sunderland caused one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history when they beat Leeds United in the final. At the time, Don Revie’s side looked invincible but their underhand bully boy tactics made them the most hated team in England.
Elland Road was a strange place to be in ’73 too, with Revie performing homo-erotic massages on his players in between matches, before treating them all to a game of bingo the night before a big game. Bremner, Charlton (J) and Hunter made it their mission in every game to decapitate any opponent who came within five yards of them so when they headed to the Twin Towers to face Bob Stokoe’s rag-bag outfit from the North East, Revie’s squad reckoned they only had to turn up to retain the trophy they’d won 12 months earlier against Arsenal.
One Ian Porterfield goal and a memorable Jim Montgomery save later, the Mackams had done the seemingly impossible and stopped the Leeds juggernaut in its tracks. The abiding image of that final is Stokoe running onto the field after the final whistle, looking like a flasher who was legging it from the police after being caught exposing himself in a public convenience.
SOUTHAMPTON 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED – FA CUP FINAL 1976
It’s hard to believe now but 40 odd years ago, Manchester United was actually many people’s favourite second team. Boss Tommy Docherty had constructed an exciting young side that contained two swashbuckling wingers in Stevie Coppell and Gordon Hill and after gaining promotion back into the First Division in 1975, it actually looked at one stage as if the Red Devils were going to win the title on their first season back in the top-flight.
They ran out of steam of course, but consoled themselves with the fact that they were in the Cup Final for the first time in 13 years against Second Division Southampton; what could possibly go wrong?
Well, everything in fact.
Skipper and serial pleasure dodger Martin Buchan later revealed that his young team-mates seemed more interested in topping up the player’s pool with cash than preparing for what was the biggest game any of them had ever played in. Bobby Stokes scored late on to give the Saints the cup as United’s young guns froze on the big day, but they would learn from their mistakes to lift the trophy 12 months later.
WIMBLEDON 1-0 LIVERPOOL – FA CUP FINAL 1988
“The crazy gang have beaten the culture club” declared John Motson as Wimbledon stopped Liverpool from claiming a league and cup double in 1988. Reds keeper Bruce Grobbelaar did a decent impersonation of Boy George as he flapped at a Dennis Wise free-kick to allow Lawrie Sanchez to head home in the opening 45 minutes.
That moment was overshadowed by the fact that Wombles goalkeeper and captain Dave Beasant saved a penalty from Liverpool striker John Aldridge to become the first keeper to save a spot-kick in the Cup Final. Beasant later went on to be voted one of Chelsea’s worst ever players during a rotten spell at Stamford Bridge in the early 90s.
Years later, Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish put the defeat down to the fact that his players had recorded the atrocious “Anfield Wrap” prior to the final, which is probably one of if not the worst Cup Final songs ever made.
WEST HAM UNITED 1-0 ARSENAL – FA CUP FINAL 1980
Hammers legend Sir Trevor Brooking had scored some memorable goals for the club prior to their unexpected appearance in the 1980 FA Cup Final as a Second Division side against the then holders Arsenal.
What Sir Trev had never done however, was score one with his head but that statistic was about to change on a boiling hot May afternoon 39 years ago, when the England midfielder stuck his bonce in the way of a Stuart Pearson cross to score the only goal of the game.
His Hammers team-mate Paul Allen became the youngest player to ever play in a final that day when he was named in the starting XI despite being just 10-years-old (that’s how young he looked) and he nearly became the youngest player to ever score in a final too; but just like when you used to play down the local park with your mates, big bully Willie Young decided the little upstart was not going to achieve his dream and booted him up in the air when he was clean through on Gunners keeper Pat Jennings.
IPSWICH TOWN 1-0 ARSENAL – FA CUP FINAL 1978
In the 1970’s Malcolm “Supermac” MacDonald had a habit of seeing his outspoken pre-Cup Final statements coming back to bite him on the ass. In 1974 when he was to play in the final for Newcastle United against Liverpool, he claimed he was going to give Reds defenders a nightmare afternoon, but in the end, it was Supermac himself who starred in his own nightmare as a Kevin Keegan inspired Reds stuffed The Magpies 3-0.
Four years later he was back at Wembley with Arsenal but the England frontman had seemingly not learnt his lesson when he claimed he was going to run country bumpkins Ipswich Town ragged in the final. Ipswich boss Bobby Robson hardly needed to give a team talk as his side won by a solitary goal scored by Roger Osbourne 13 minutes from time.
Overcome with emotion at what he had just done, Osbourne had to go off shortly after his goal and was never really heard of again, but just like Foinavon on Grand National day, he always gets a mention before every FA Cup Final.